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  1. Abstract

    Gene duplications have long been recognized as a contributor to the evolution of genes with new functions. Multiple copies of genes can result from tandem duplication, from transposition to new chromosomes, or from whole-genome duplication (polyploidy). The most common fate is that one member of the pair is deleted to return the gene to the singleton state. Other paths involve the reduced expression of both copies (hypofunctionalization) that are held in duplicate to maintain sufficient quantity of function. The two copies can split functions (subfunctionalization) or can diverge to generate a new function (neofunctionalization). Retention of duplicates resulting from doubling of the whole genome occurs for genes involved with multicomponent interactions such as transcription factors and signal transduction components. In contrast, these classes of genes are underrepresented in small segmental duplications. This complementary pattern suggests that the balance of interactors affects the fate of the duplicate pair. We discuss the different mechanisms that maintain duplicated genes, which may change over time and intersect.

  2. Abstract

    The genomic imbalance caused by varying the dosage of individual chromosomes or chromosomal segments (aneuploidy) has more detrimental effects than altering the dosage of complete chromosome sets (ploidy). Previous analysis of maize (Zea mays) aneuploids revealed global modulation of gene expression both on the varied chromosome (cis) and the remainder of the genome (trans). However, little is known regarding the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) under genomic imbalance. Here, we report the impact of aneuploidy and polyploidy on the expression of miRNAs. In general,cismiRNAs in aneuploids present a predominant gene-dosage effect, whereastransmiRNAs trend toward the inverse level, although other types of responses including dosage compensation, increased effect, and decreased effect also occur. By contrast, polyploids show less differential miRNA expression than aneuploids. Significant correlations between expression levels of miRNAs and their targets are identified in aneuploids, indicating the regulatory role of miRNAs on gene expression triggered by genomic imbalance.

  3. Abstract

    Modern agriculture depends on a narrow variety of crop species, leaving global food and nutritional security highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and population expansion. Crop improvement using conventional and molecular breeding approaches leveraging plant genetic diversity using crop wild relatives (CWRs) has been one approach to address these issues. However, the rapid pace of the global change requires additional innovative solutions to adapt agriculture to meet global needs. Neodomestication—the rapid and targeted introduction of domestication traits using introgression or genome editing of CWRs—is being explored as a supplementary approach. These methods show promise; however, they have so far been limited in efficiency and applicability. We propose expanding the scope of neodomestication beyond truly wild CWRs to include feral crops as a source of genetic diversity for novel crop development, in this case ‘redomestication’. Feral crops are plants that have escaped cultivation and evolved independently, typically adapting to their local environments. Thus, feral crops potentially contain valuable adaptive features while retaining some domestication traits. Due to their genetic proximity to crop species, feral crops may be easier targets for de novo domestication (i.e. neodomestication via genome editing techniques). In this review, we explore the potential ofmore »de novo redomestication as an application for novel crop development by genome editing of feral crops. This approach to efficiently exploit plant genetic diversity would access an underutilized reservoir of genetic diversity that could prove important in support of global food insecurity in the face of the climate change.

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  4. Abstract

    The B chromosome of maize undergoes nondisjunction at the second pollen mitosis as part of its accumulation mechanism. Previous work identified 9-Bic-1 (9-B inactivated centromere-1), which comprises an epigenetically silenced B chromosome centromere that was translocated to the short arm of chromosome 9(9S). This chromosome is stable in isolation, but when normal B chromosomes are added to the genotype, it will attempt to undergo nondisjunction during the second pollen mitosis and usually fractures the chromosome in 9S. These broken chromosomes allow a test of whether the inactive centromere is reactivated or whether a de novo centromere is formed elsewhere on the chromosome to allow recovery of fragments. Breakpoint determination on the B chromosome and chromosome 9 showed that mini chromosome B1104 has the same breakpoint as 9-Bic-1 in the B centromere region and includes a portion of 9S. CENH3 binding was found on the B centromere region and on 9S, suggesting both centromere reactivation and de novo centromere formation. Another mini chromosome, B496, showed evidence of rearrangement, but it also only showed evidence for a de novo centromere. Other mini chromosome fragments recovered were directly derived from the B chromosome with breakpoints concentrated near the centromeric knob region, whichmore »suggests that the B chromosome is broken at a low frequency due to the failure of the sister chromatids to separate at the second pollen mitosis. Our results indicate that both reactivation and de novo centromere formation could occur on fragments derived from the progenitor possessing an inactive centromere.

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  5. Maize ( Zea mays ssp. mays ) is a popular genetic model due to its ease of crossing, well-established toolkits, and its status as a major global food crop. Recent technology developments for precise manipulation of the genome are further impacting both basic biological research and biotechnological application in agriculture. Crop gene editing often requires a process of genetic transformation in which the editing reagents are introduced into plant cells. In maize, this procedure is well-established for a limited number of public lines that are amenable for genetic transformation. Fast-Flowering Mini-Maize (FFMM) lines A and B were recently developed as an open-source tool for maize research by reducing the space requirements and the generation time. Neither line of FFMM were competent for genetic transformation using traditional protocols, a necessity to its status as a complete toolkit for public maize genetic research. Here we report the development of new lines of FFMM that have been bred for amenability to genetic transformation. By hybridizing a transformable maize genotype high Type-II callus parent A (Hi-II A) with line A of FFMM, we introgressed the ability to form embryogenic callus from Hi-II A into the FFMM-A genetic background. Through multiple generations of iterative self-hybridizationmore »or doubled-haploid method, we established maize lines that have a strong ability to produce embryogenic callus from immature embryos and maintain resemblance to FFMM-A in flowering time and stature. Using an Agrobacterium -mediated standard transformation method, we successfully introduced the CRISPR-Cas9 reagents into immature embryos and generated transgenic and mutant lines displaying the expected mutant phenotypes and genotypes. The transformation frequencies of the tested genotypes, defined as the numbers of transgenic event producing T1 seeds per 100 infected embryos, ranged from 0 to 17.1%. Approximately 80% of transgenic plants analyzed in this study showed various mutation patterns at the target site. The transformable FFMM line, FFMM-AT, can serve as a useful genetic and genomic resource for the maize community.« less
  6. Abstract

    Comparative genomics has revealed common occurrences in karyotype evolution such as chromosomal end-to-end fusions and insertions of one chromosome into another near the centromere, as well as many cases of de novo centromeres that generate positional polymorphisms. However, how rearrangements such as dicentrics and acentrics persist without being destroyed or lost remains unclear. Here, we sought experimental evidence for the frequency and timeframe for inactivation and de novo formation of centromeres in maize (Zea mays). The pollen from plants with supernumerary B chromosomes was gamma-irradiated and then applied to normal maize silks of a line without B chromosomes. In ∼8,000 first-generation seedlings, we found many B–A translocations, centromere expansions, and ring chromosomes. We also found many dicentric chromosomes, but a fraction of these show only a single primary constriction, which suggests inactivation of one centromere. Chromosomal fragments were found without canonical centromere sequences, revealing de novo centromere formation over unique sequences; these were validated by immunolocalization with Thr133-phosphorylated histone H2A, a marker of active centromeres, and chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing with the CENH3 antibody. These results illustrate the regular occurrence of centromere birth and death after chromosomal rearrangement during a narrow window of one to potentially only a few cell cyclesmore »for the rearranged chromosomes to be recognized in this experimental regime.

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